I’ve written previously about the distinctions between Christianity, orthodox Christianity and evangelicalism. I see Christianity as a huge tent. But, I am also seeing that many groups or churches within Christianity are – or can be – even bigger tents…in welcoming “non-believers” (like myself). Not only welcoming them into their groups, or being in relationships with participants, but as important voices to be listened to and learned from. Even, in some more democratic groups, equally seen as “leaders.”
Why do I think this? There are many reasons, one of which is what I think does – or should - define emergent…
This brings me to a proposal that I want to make, related to some things floating around the web recently in response to the #EC13 conference:
THE only identity-marker of emergent/emergence is love.
The real answer is to be truly counter-cultural. But of course, what is that supposed to look like? I suppose that to a certain extent that’s what the emergent movement is about.
To which I responded:
I’ve become more allergic to this “counter-cultural” language. I know it’s not what many people mean by it, but maybe it’s better to say “we want to be defined by love” – and if that is inherently against the cultural norm, then so be it…
Then, Dan Hauge made a statement that seems more in line with where I am going with this:
More prominent emergents have emphasized being in step with dominant cultural thought–be it scientific, philosophical, or even how we use technology and consume. I feel like I’ve heard, particularly on this blog, more of an apprehension that the church will be irrelevant or out of step with the broader culture–and a sense that the ‘future of Christianity’ requires more integration with the culture rather than a distinct counter-cultural identity.
So, should those involved with emergent seek to define themselves as primarily “counter-cultural” or should we rather focus on love – whether or not that goes against the surrounding culture?
I think it’s obvious that to truly love will inherently go against the stream of whatever culture one lives in. But, I am not interested in a primarily reactionary stance.
I am just not so sure that our main task is to undermine… I don’t want to be the undermining parasite ON the big organism. That is too small a task… I want to participate in the development of cosmic good – until then at least the common good.
To love, of course, is not only to love others: it is to love oneself, to love our enemies…and to love our planet, and the entire universe.
(And, this kind of love does not require assent to propositional beliefs about God, Jesus, etc. – in fact, those beliefs may actually keep us from being able to love.)